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Old 03-03-2005, 02:27 PM
Bill Loftin
 
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Default Another Parker Interview


A not very interesting and very shallow interview with Robert Parker is
in the April Issue of the Washingtonian Magazine (District of Columbia - USA )
There was one point made in the article that I had not heard before. Parker
states that when his newsletter first got started that British writers dominated
wine publications. Then he went on to say that most of them were in the wine
business and were not exactly impartial. He states that his primary motivation
in the publication of his newsletter was to always be impartial and he has gone
to great lengths to do that.
Bill

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Old 03-03-2005, 10:15 PM
Ian Hoare
 
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Salut/Hi Bill Loftin,

le/on Thu, 03 Mar 2005 14:27:01 GMT, tu disais/you said:-

There was one point made in the article that I had not heard before. Parker
states that when his newsletter first got started that British writers dominated
wine publications.


True.

Then he went on to say that most of them were in the wine business and were not exactly impartial.


That's interesting, but I'm not sure how true it is. When did he start? 25
years ago was it? I don't remember ,it was in the interview. But trying to
think back, who was around? I have always questioned Decanter's
impartiality, but they merely (as far as I could see) puffed the companies
that advertised with them. But there's a wide difference between that and
saying that individual writers were biased because they were in the biz
(presumably as PR consultants to wine firms/domaines. That happens - even
today (in Australia too, I believe) - though most writers can't afford to
lose their status by taints of bias. I don't think RP was right in saying
this.
in the publication of his newsletter was to always be impartial and he has gone
to great lengths to do that.


That's certainly true, and he's exemplary in that respect.

--
All the Best
Ian Hoare
http://www.souvigne.com
mailbox full to avoid spam. try me at website
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:42 PM
joseph b. rosenberg
 
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There was an article about 5-10 years ago in the LA Times that developed the
theme of Parker the purist vs the traditional writers. This article exposed
several West Coast wine writers as accepting freebies, writing for importers
etc. I know the Baltimore Sun gave Michael Dresser some guidelines to
follow around this time. Having made some presentations to Michael even
before the LA Times expose, I know he never accepted freebies. Most of the
newspaper wine writers in the US either work for the paper in other capacity
or have other jobs not in the business. When Parker came on the scene in
the US there was Jerry Mead, the guys doing the Connoisseurs Guide and the
San Diego now California Grapevine all independent as far as I know.

The famous writers Peter Sichel, Frank Schoomaker, Terry Robards all had
ties in the industry. Leon Adams the great advocate of American wine, made
no excuses for accepting gifts, although I doubt if Ch LaTour benefited from
giving Leon a couple of bottles. As far as the English writers in 1978
besides the Decanter, Broadbent, Waugh and Hugh Johnson were supreme. All
had some ties to the trade.

What differentiated Parker was the 100 point scale and the fact that he had
no ties to anyone in the business. While the Grapevine & Conn Guide were
also independent they basically confined themselves to the Left Coast. In
the beginning Parker got a lot of help from fellow enthusiasts, especially
in California and Italy. I know that because I was one. I remember lots of
times when I called him after a Left Coast trip to mention some great wine
not heard of on the East Coast. Of course I was not the only one. Soon
Baltimore & DC merchants began sharing discoveries with Parker often at one
of his visits or at Friday night tastings held at his home.

The wine scandals of the 70's kept consumers pockets closed but the baby
boomers started to get interested in wine in the early 80's and started
riding the California wave. Then came 1982 Bordeaux and Parker took a
completely different position on it from the most major writers who were
still pushing the weak assed 80's and 81s sitting in their friends shelves
and warehouses. These wines from 1982 were very Californian in style as a
new generation of winemakers took over from the previous generation. Voila!
lawyers. accountants, doctors and dentists started coming out of the
woodwork waving Wine Advocates in their hands wanting 1982 futures because
their Ralph Nader, Robert Parker Jr., was their kind of guy; down to earth,
chatty and blunt.

You all know the rest of the story, Marvin Shankin turned the Wine Spectator
into the Advocate on Percodan, adopting the 100 point system and buying
frenzies caused by reviews in the WA & WS go on today.........

--
Joseph B. Rosenberg
"Ian Hoare" wrote in message
...
Salut/Hi Bill Loftin,

le/on Thu, 03 Mar 2005 14:27:01 GMT, tu disais/you said:-

There was one point made in the article that I had not heard before.

Parker
states that when his newsletter first got started that British writers

dominated
wine publications.


True.

Then he went on to say that most of them were in the wine business and

were not exactly impartial.

That's interesting, but I'm not sure how true it is. When did he start? 25
years ago was it? I don't remember ,it was in the interview. But trying to
think back, who was around? I have always questioned Decanter's
impartiality, but they merely (as far as I could see) puffed the companies
that advertised with them. But there's a wide difference between that and
saying that individual writers were biased because they were in the biz
(presumably as PR consultants to wine firms/domaines. That happens - even
today (in Australia too, I believe) - though most writers can't afford to
lose their status by taints of bias. I don't think RP was right in saying
this.
in the publication of his newsletter was to always be impartial and he

has gone
to great lengths to do that.


That's certainly true, and he's exemplary in that respect.

--
All the Best
Ian Hoare
http://www.souvigne.com
mailbox full to avoid spam. try me at website



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Old 04-03-2005, 12:07 AM
Cwdjrx _
 
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Another important wine publication many years ago was the Underground
Wine Journal. In the early years it was run by a West coast stock
broker(John Tilson?) who had a passion for wines and apparently had the
means to drink the best. He wrote many of the reviews, especially of the
high end wines such as Romanee-Conti, Montrachet, Chateau Latour, and
the like. I believe he used a 20 point system. More writers were added
as time passed, and the stock broker apparently lost interest in the
publication.The publication then went on for a few years and then
closed. I think the founder had no holy cows, and he would have even
given Romanee-Conti a low score if he thought it was deserved. In hind
sight, I find his evaluatons of the top wines when young have proved to
be more accurate now that the wines have matured than those of Parker in
the early stages of his wine writing. In the early days the publication
allowed no wine ads.

Reply to .

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Old 04-03-2005, 01:08 AM
Richard Neidich
 
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Did the interview ever hit on the lawsuit that Parker got into with
Chapotier on CDP? I thing it was 1991 Bar B Rac?

Did that ever come up?


"Bill Loftin" wrote in message
news:[email protected]

A not very interesting and very shallow interview with Robert Parker is
in the April Issue of the Washingtonian Magazine (District of Columbia -
USA )
There was one point made in the article that I had not heard before.
Parker
states that when his newsletter first got started that British writers
dominated
wine publications. Then he went on to say that most of them were in the
wine
business and were not exactly impartial. He states that his primary
motivation
in the publication of his newsletter was to always be impartial and he has
gone
to great lengths to do that.
Bill





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Old 04-03-2005, 05:02 AM
Bill Loftin
 
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joseph b. rosenberg wrote:
When Parker came on the scene in
the US there was Jerry Mead, the guys doing the Connoisseurs Guide and the
San Diego now California Grapevine all independent as far as I know.


Most of those guys lived on donated wine and that is why I dropped my
subscription to Connoisseurs Guide because they constantly tasted wines
that were not sold. I had some association with Les Amis du Vin at one
time and many cases of wine arrived each month free.

Then came 1982 Bordeaux and Parker took a
completely different position on it from the most major writers who were
still pushing the weak assed 80's and 81s sitting in their friends shelves
and warehouses. These wines from 1982 were very Californian in style as a
new generation of winemakers took over from the previous generation. Voila!
lawyers. accountants, doctors and dentists started coming out of the
woodwork waving Wine Advocates in their hands wanting 1982 futures because
their Ralph Nader, Robert Parker Jr., was their kind of guy; down to earth,
chatty and blunt.


I think he brought a second revolution to California in 1982 also by high
lighting all the highly extracted wines of that vintage.
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Old 04-03-2005, 05:05 AM
Bill Loftin
 
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Richard Neidich wrote:

Did the interview ever hit on the lawsuit that Parker got into with
Chapotier on CDP? I thing it was 1991 Bar B Rac?

Did that ever come up?


I have never seen mention of that in any interview with Parker.
Nor I have seen him comment on his trouble with Burgundy wine makers
in any interview.

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Old 04-03-2005, 09:51 AM
Max Hauser
 
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I don't know how many readers here saw the US wine-publication scene in
depth before Parker's impact. (I gather at least joseph b. rosenberg did,
and Cwdjr; Ian Hoare from Britain). I saw it in the US at the time; I
subscribed to some of those publications and read others. I also wrote
about them at the time here, for anyone who was interested, on the original
version of this newsgroup (two name changes ago, and many people ago),
starting in 1983 with article . For anyone who is
still interested (and did not see it already) the original remains
accessible in the Google archive at

http://tinyurl.com/3vjrg

I described Finigan's, Underground Wineletter, Olken and Singer
("Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wines," and the respected Vintage
magazine (which reported blind taste tests by various contributors and
panels, many of whom migrated to the new Wine Spectator after Vintage was
unable to thrive with its subscription-only, no-advertising policy -- itself
a model of independence at the time). I omitted in 1983 (and have since
apologized for that!) John Tilson's Underground Wineletter (one of whose
editors reads this newsgroup sometimes).

The next year, 1984, the landmark UC-Sotheby book appeared, a principal US
wine reference book and about the largest one to that date (ISBN 0520050851
and printed in such numbers that it has flooded the used market since).
Chapter X.6 reviews established US wine newsletters ("a phenomenon of the
1970s") regardless of their emphasis in US vs. European wines: Finigan,
Connoisseurs', Underground Wineletter, and California Grapevine (Vintage
ceased publication in 1983). Parker does not appear. Parker emerged
"beyond the Beltway" [Baltimore-Washington region] into general US
wine-enthusiast attention, joining those others, with his early
recommendations of the 1982 Bordeaux (after the UC / Sotheby book).

"Bill Loftin" in news:[email protected]

... Parker states that when his newsletter first got started
that British writers dominated wine publications.


I don't know the context of the statement. Certainly from the US that was
not the picture in consumer publications, as I outlined above (and did in
1983) as did the UC-Sotheby book. You would also see Decanter, the books by
the British authors, and in-depth articles by US wine writers -- Anthony
Dias Blue, Gerald Asher, Anthony Spinazzola, and so on -- in general food
publications. But specifically, there was a lively field of established
independent US newsletters. I still have them, and refer occasionally to
tasting notes as well as historical material published in some of them.
Certainly not all, or even much, of their writing is easily dismissed as
tainted in some commercial way (a point that may be unrelated to the
interview article). It's remarkable how little searching attention is given
today to the context into which Parker emerged, whatever his own strengths
and weaknesses. Most of the journalism today is done by people with no
experience of the events, guided by partisans. (Parker himself, for
example, as a source on the nature of his predecessors, is valuable, but it
does have something in common with interviewing, say, Microsoft about the
early alternatives in operating systems, or G. W. Bush about his political
rivals.)

Then he went on to say that most of them were in
the wine business and were not exactly impartial.


Again I haven't seen the story. But for any of you unacquainted with the
following, an odd dichotomy attends the _implications_ of merchant
experience. British and some traditional US writers have emphasized
objective tasting skills. The (British) Masters of Wine program, since the
1950s, uses rigorous blind tests to measure if would-be experts "know" the
wines and scents and tastes they claim to. (This program used to get more
press in US wine publications.) Historically, wine merchants had the best
success at passing such exams. (Among US as well as British applicants.)
Wine writers reportedly have not done nearly as well. This situation used
to be interpreted as evidence for strong tasting skills among merchants (who
then became wine writers in some famous cases). Lately, some US wine
writers seem to favor attacking the motivations of merchants, rather than
trying to compete on objective tasting skills.

He states that his primary motivation in the
publication of his newsletter was to always be
impartial and he has gone to great lengths to do that.


I believe that many people would agree, and also that it's an admirable
goal. One that was hardly new with Parker, and it would be helpful to have
other sources than Parker or his fans about the point.

By the way, when Parker surfaced nationally and was first discussed here on
the wine newsgroup, there was a lot of thoughtful exchange on his strengths
and weaknesses. That was in 1985-87, and the subject seemed pretty well
understood. (Unfortunately, such discussion was lost on new arrivals, some
of them having just breathlessly discovered Parker and eager to tell about
it. Moreover, it is less well archived publicly now than it was at the
time.) It was in the middle 1980s also that newsgroups became widely
publicly accessible in the US, by the way, though not everyone cared. But
20 years ago, wine enthusiasts I saw who latched onto Parker always claimed
some distance -- "I don't just follow his numbers of course, he himself
discourages it." 10 years ago, the numbers were showing up forthrightly in
conversation by some wine enthusiasts, sounding new and strange to others.
Today, people actively advocate the merits to the consumer of buying by
numbers. (Though the stuff about P. as a defender of the consumer against
tainted writers and merchants is a relatively recent addition, or anyway it
was not an angle I saw being played up 20, or even 10, years ago.)

-- Max


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Old 04-03-2005, 10:02 AM
Max Hauser
 
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Corrections:

I wrote in ...
the original remains accessible in the Google archive at

http://tinyurl.com/725qb


I omitted in 1983 (and have since apologized for that!)


Nicholas Ponomareff's _California Gapevine._



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Old 04-03-2005, 01:16 PM
DaleW
 
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I didn't see this interview, but in the past Parker has mentioned this
issue specifically in the context of Bordeaux. He felt many of the
Bordeaux writers of the times (70s & early 80s) derived more of their
income from auction houses and large wine merchants than from writing.
One particular sore point was the tendency of some writers to merely
reinforce the hierarchy-a reluctance to call a first-growth out when it
was underperforming.

A few random thoughts re conflicts of interest:
I personally feel that many merchants can be great sources of info, but
one would be foolish to forget their business is to sell wine.

There is one prominent writer (whose work I usually enjoy) where I have
seen more than one report about the case of Chateau X being put in his
trunk as he is tasting. If true, does that mean he's corrupt? No, but
one wonders if he can totally separate this "generosity" from what he's
tasting.

One should never forget- whether reading a wine magazine, a newspaper,
a newsgroup posting, or an advertising flyer- the old adage to
"consider the source." We all have our biases, prejudices, and agenda
(conscious or unconscious). This includes Parker- but I do give him
credit for trying to reduce conflicts of interest.



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Old 04-03-2005, 01:39 PM
Richard Neidich
 
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Doing interviews and never have mention of his legal issues tell me that his
interview was more like an infomercial.

To me, an interviewer would at least try to cover the tough questions of
"Tell us about your big mistakes"... "What ever happened in Rhone with
Chapotier"

A few open ended tough questions....

I do think he is better than most. But with all that power comes ego.



"Bill Loftin" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
Richard Neidich wrote:

Did the interview ever hit on the lawsuit that Parker got into with
Chapotier on CDP? I thing it was 1991 Bar B Rac?

Did that ever come up?


I have never seen mention of that in any interview with Parker.
Nor I have seen him comment on his trouble with Burgundy wine makers
in any interview.





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